Garfield Re-2 approves wage increases for staff |

Garfield Re-2 approves wage increases for staff

It’s been four years since staffers at the Garfield Re-2 School District have seen an increase in their base salaries, but that will soon change.

During a special meeting at Cactus Valley Elementary School on May 4, the Garfield Re-2 School Board passed a proposal to increase base salaries for school district staff.

“It is a monumental feat that these departments came together and everyone worked together for the greater good of all employees,” Board President Meriya Stickler said.

For the 2022-23 school year, base salaries for teachers, counselors and academic coaches increase from the current $36,896 to $43,011. Base salaries for special service providers also increase from the current $46,506 to $52,068, while classified employees such as custodians and bus drivers increase from $13 to $16 an hour.

In addition, step increases — which are based on education attained and years worked — will be implemented for the next school year.

“I’m excited that we got to this spot,” Board Member Britton Fletchall said. “Hopefully through that, now we can achieve our goals.”

Wednesday’s approval comes after the board and district employees spent the past few months trying to agree on a proper compensation package.

During the April 27 board meeting, Garfield Re-2 teacher advocacy group Collaborative Solutions originally recommended making the increases.

“Making the commitment to get us to that market level,” Collaborative Solutions representative and Rifle High School Assistant Principal Kyle Mickelson said, “it’s going to be life-changing.”

Garfield Re-2 has seen its employee turnover rate increase slightly, Communications Director Theresa Hamilton said. In 2020-21, the district’s turnover rate matched the state’s at 20%, while this year is a little higher.

“Recruiting and retaining is going to be a part of our strategic planning process,” Hamilton said Thursday.

Like many school districts in Colorado, Garfield Re-2 implements raises for staff depending on education levels attained and years worked. The system is referred to as steps and lanes.

Garfield Re-2 Director of Human Services Kayla Reece said on April 27 making salary adjustments now should make pay more competitive with neighboring districts.

“It will make your teacher salary a little more competitive,” she said.

Mesa County Valley School District 51 is increasing its base teacher salary to $41,000, while Steamboat Springs School District pays $45,000, according to slides presented by Reece. Over at Roaring Fork School District, a teacher’s base pay is $50,000.

In addition to salary bumps at Garfield Re-2, health insurance adjustments were approved by the board on Feb. 23. Now, many employees on family and spousal plans should see a $300-$800 decrease in insurance expenses as the district absorbs a 6.8% increase in premium costs.

Board members and district officials questioned whether approving increases to pay would prevent further vacancies. However, they also acknowledged that, no matter what, the district is losing employees.

“We’re on target to lose the same amount as we did last year,” Stickler said.

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or

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